Shaw Island Matt Caper

matthewcaper@gmail.com

matthewcaper.com

Chapter 19

Together, Tempers & Tumult

 

When Liam arrived home, everything seemed to be completely normal, despite Patrick's outrage earlier. He walked in, and a smiling man in his late fifties -- practically an older version of Jacob Reilly -- stood with Jacob and Jenny. Grandpa Reilly exploded with open arms and an exclamation of joy. "There's my wee lad!"

"Hi, Grandpa Reilly!" Liam went into the embrace and grunted as the air was squeezed out of him. "I haven't seen you in forever!"

"You're not so wee anymore!" Grandpa's Irish accent was a little difficult to understand, but Liam loved it. "I brought presents. Just peek in that box over there."

Liam ran to a large cardboard box, and inside it were two packages, one addressed to him and the other to Patrick. He yanked his out excitedly -- a rather large one - then suddenly went still, thinking it could be breakable. He opened it carefully, but didn't take too much time. It turned out to not be breakable at all, but wearable. Folded in the box was a full traditional Irish outfit, including a long-sleeved shirt, a sweater, stockings, a tweed hat, trousers made of wool and a kilt. He giggled as he held the wool kilt up to himself. "Thanks, Grandpa! Can I wear this to school in the fall?"

Jenny snorted. "Not likely."

"That's part of your proud heritage right there," said Grandpa. "You wear either the trews or the kilt, not both at the same time. If you have a few moments to spare this evening, I'd be delighted if you'd model them for me."

"Sure, I will! I'll come back after dinner, if that's okay. We're celebrating my...friend's birthday today."

"Great!" Grandpa smiled. "You go ahead and run along to your lads. We'll have plenty of time later to catch up."

"Thanks again, Grandpa," Liam gave him one more hug and giggled when Grandpa patted his butt to send him off.

After running all the way back to the Lopers', Liam found an awkward atmosphere. Panting, he glanced around the den at anxious faces. "What's going on?" he croaked.

"We're just chatting," said Charles. "How's your grandpa?"

"He's good. He came all the way from Ireland. I'm gonna go home for a while after dinner, but then I'll come back. Or go to HQ, or whatever." He peered curiously at the blond brothers, Trey and Toran, whom the boys had conspired to get in one place together. They were sitting with ample space between them, one on the couch and the other in a chair. "Why aren't you two sitting together?"

"Liam," Charles said firmly. "You're meddling."

Liam heaved a dramatic, exasperated sigh. "Mr. Loper, they were given a second chance, and they're ruining it!"

Trey echoed Liam's sigh of exasperation, but it was Toran who spoke up. "I would just like to go on record that this separation wasn't my idea. Not my choice at all," he noted tersely.

Though the boys already knew that, they glared at Trey, who scowled under their judgment. He scooted to the edge of his seat on the couch and put up an air of defiance. "Look at us! It's obvious that we're brothers. And when we were together, it was plain how close we were. The world does not accept brothers who are lovers!" His face was riddled with frustration. "Least of all our father! He's only sixty-seven and could live another thirty years or more. We can't hide our relationship that long unless we live in different cities!"

Toran huffed in response; Liam thought Trey was going to explode.

"So you'll wait until you're in your fifties to be with the one you truly love," Colin said evenly. "You'll wait thirty damn years to start living your life. And then you'll probably say people still won't understand, so you can't be together even then." He shook his head slowly, taking a deep breath. "The whole point of that place we went to was to learn to love each other and never be without each other. Then you come back and forget all of that? You just decide that Toran doesn't matter anymore? What the hell kind of brother are you?"

"Colin, stop," Charles ordered quietly. "You can't guilt a man in doing what you think is best for him. He has to decide for himself what's best."

"That's right, I do," Trey said sharply, but then he jerked his head toward Toran when he heard a sob escape his brother's lips.

"When we came back," Toran whispered hoarsely, "Trey protected me from Dad even more. And he was my lover, too, like we were in that strange place. He even waited to go to college until I graduated high school. Those were the best four years of my life. But then it was..." his voice broke and tears filled his eye corners. "It was over. We spent the next six years apart because Trey demanded it. And I've never been so...so lonely."

Trey frowned, then scowled, a mixture of pain and anger on his face. "Well, guess who was the one to endure all of the abuse? Me, that's who. And it..." he screwed up his face so tightly, he literally turned red. "It pisses me off so much to think our father could win in the end by disinheriting us. I can just see his smug little face as he leaves all his money to the fucking NRA! I will not let that happen!"

Toran slipped out of his recliner and walked on his knees to Trey. "But that's just it, Trey!" he whispered desperately. "He's already won by keeping us apart! We can make our own money, we don't need his! We could buy a house on the island, since he doesn't live here anymore. People here will accept us!"

Liam turned his head toward another sound and saw thin streaks of moisture on Colin's cheeks. That was enough to propel his own waterworks into gear. Trey looked up to see the two boys crying, and his demeanor softened considerably. "But your job..." he said lamely.

"I'll find another one, for Pete's sake," sighed Toran. "Trey..." he began, scooting closer and taking both of Trey's hands into his. "If you don't love me anymore, as more than a brother, then I'll leave you alone. Tell me truthfully you're happier without me, and I'll go back to California without any more arguing. And no hard feelings." He stared intently at his brother, unblinking.

"Toran, don't be ridiculous-" Trey started.

Colin interrupted. "Go ahead, Trey. Tell Toran you don't love him. Tell him to go back home `cause you're happier without him. Go on. Tell him. Lie through your fucking teeth."

"Shh! Colin, stop," Liam said tenderly, before the Lopers could intervene. "This is their life. Let `em work it out on their own. We love you guys," he directed his words to the brothers. "We just want you to be happy. I'm sorry if I meddled too much."

Trey shook his head, appearing to be fighting strong emotions, the way his brow creased so strongly. His brother hadn't taken his eyes off of him. "Tor, I'm...anything but happy. You gotta know that. It's easier to pretend I don't care, or I'll just fall apart. We went to college and started doing things on our own, and it just made it easier to convince myself that was the best way. I told myself when we graduated, maybe we'd go somewhere together then. But then we graduated, and I told myself again it was better to stay apart. Now, two years later, I'm more lost than I've ever been. I'm just...going through the motions and trying not to think about the father I loathe so much, who took away so much of our lives."

"So don't let him take away any more," Toran whispered, framing Trey's face in his hands. "Tell me you love me, and that we'll live happily ever after right here on the island."

Trey choked out a laugh mixed with a sob. "You make it sound so easy. Why does it feel so hard?"

Toran shook his head. "It's not easy. Our life has never been easy. But dammit, I still need you to watch out for me. I don't feel safe without you. I know that sounds stupid, `cause I'm twenty-four years old. But it's just how I feel."

Trey leaned forward and kissed Toran on the lips so tenderly, Liam's heart melted and he clung tightly to Colin. "I never want you to not feel safe," Trey said hoarsely. "I don't care how old we are, it's my job to protect you."

Trey was silent for a moment, and Colin took the opportunity to speak again. "We formed our club to do good deeds for people. We could totally help you move to a new house," he said hopefully. "Our first good deed was to get you two back together."

Trey managed a laugh, staring at the boys in wonder. "You guys..." he couldn't seem to finish his thought, merely shaking his head.

"So do you love Toran or not?" Liam smiled.

"More than life itself," Trey answered immediately.

"More than Dad's money?" Toran asked softly.

"God, Tor. Of course. Screw him and his money. Let's make Shaw Island the home we always wanted."

While Toran attacked Trey with hugs and kisses, Liam squealed and attacked Colin with the same. Then he did it to Matthew and Jeremiah. "Our plan worked! Oh my gosh!" he cried happily, jumping up and down.

"You cheeky little boy," Trey growled. "Come here." He took Liam into a tight, long embrace. "Thank you," he whispered in the boy's ear.

That spurred a round of hugs between everyone, after which they migrated to the kitchen to celebrate with junk food.

While the golden haired brothers scoured the island with Charles and Linda to find either the right house or the perfect spot of land, the boys returned to HQ after dinner. Liam planned to go home soon to see Grandpa, but first he wanted to know why Patrick was so angry. They filed into the house, and Liam went straight to the guest bedroom. The door was open, and Patrick wasn't there. He peeked into the master bedroom -- The Bunk - before continuing to the workroom. There he was greeted with a surprise scene. Patrick was sitting in front of one of the laptops, completely naked, jerking off to gay porn.

Since Patrick had his back to him, Liam decided to move out of the room slowly and not disturb his brother. However, the others ruined his plan. They came in behind him, chatting away with each other, which caused Patrick to swivel in his chair and face them, a look of horror on his face. The foursome stood before him, gaping openly at his incredibly large tool.

"That seriously looks bigger every time I see it," Colin murmured.

"Are you masturbating?" Jeremiah asked, and the others giggled. All except Patrick.

"It's usually called jerking off," said Patrick. Instead of covering himself, he slid down in the chair and opened his legs wider, going back to stroking himself.

"Or jacking off," said Colin.

"Or beating your meat," Liam added with a giggle.

"Or spanking your monkey," said Colin, without expression.

"Yeah, and lots of other things," Patrick said irritably. "Do you boys mind?"

"Nope, not at all," said Colin, remaining steadfast. His reaction elicited a fit of giggles from the younger boys. "This is our workroom, after all."

"Fine," Patrick stated defiantly. He turned back to the desk, where a video was playing, and continued to pleasure himself. Matthew took the chair next to him and watched, and Jeremiah moved closer to see, too. They both watched Patrick more than the video. Colin moved to the other side of Patrick and watched the video, and Liam stood with him.

Liam was already stretching the pouch in his briefs because of the porn. It felt weird to see Patrick again in a sexual situation. Nevertheless, he was confident his affections belonged only to Colin. Only at that moment, he wanted Colin to have his body along with his affections. He focused his gaze on Colin's crotch and licked his lips; there was a definite bulge there.

"I'm gonna go to the Bunk," said Liam, watching Colin's face. Colin nodded, but didn't otherwise move, keeping his eyes on two young guys getting it on.

Liam made a second attempt to get Colin's attention. He unzipped Colin's pants and fondled him over his underwear. Colin moaned and finally looked at Liam. Liam grinned wickedly and pushed Colin's pants down a bit, followed by his briefs. "Li, not in front of them."

"I was trying to get your attention, but you were mesmerized by those boys." He stroked Colin's dripping cock, and Colin didn't seem interested in stopping him.

"Sorry, babe. It's been a good day, and I'm just really horny."

"You can watch them on the computer if you want," said Liam, sinking to his knees. "I'm gonna suck your dick." He didn't waste any time; his moistened lips slipped over Colin's cock head, and Colin pushed the rest of it into the boy's mouth.

"Shit," he gasped. "You guys don't..." he began, not wanting them to watch, but Liam's expert mouth distracted his thoughts. "Sweet Jesus," he growled.

"Col," Patrick whispered. He was now enamored with the real scene rather than the one on the computer. "Can I suck Li's dick while he sucks yours?"

Colin had closed his eyes for a moment, but opened them sharply when Patrick spoke. "I'll fucking kill you if you do," he said, then smiled.

"Message received," said Patrick. He didn't watch them any less, however, the laptop all but forgotten.

Feeling possessive and painfully horny at the same time, Colin took hold of Liam's head and held it still while he thrust between those red lips into a hole of hot breath, with a tongue to stimulate his cock's ridges. And Liam took it with ease and a thrill.

Colin's animalistic behavior sent Patrick over the brink. He grunted loudly, leaned back in the chair, and streamed globs of mess high into the air for all to see. In the end, his torso, hand and crotch were blanketed with his own juice.

Colin ceased his thrusting, pulled out of Liam and undressed completely. In the meantime, Jeremiah inched closer to Patrick, curious about the semen he'd just produced. Liam followed Colin's lead and undressed, too.

"We're going to the Bunk," Colin announced. He tugged Liam to the bedroom, bent him over the twin bed, and bent down himself to put his tongue in Liam's ass; that was something he'd never done before, and Liam moaned wildly to show how much he liked it. A few seconds later, Colin slapped Liam's right cheek, and Liam cried out, startled but incredibly turned on.

"Colin, you're so hot," he panted. "I want you so bad." Colin responded by giving him a few more slaps. "Pleeaase," Liam begged. "I need you."

Colin stood up straight, tugged Liam up and turned him around, kissing him madly. A growl rumbled from his chest as he severed the kiss. "On your back, babe. I'm ready."

Liam lay on the bed and raised his legs high in the air. Colin climbed on him and didn't hesitate to enter him and thrust inside. "Colin...baby..." Liam whimpered. "You're the best." He knew stroking Colin's ego was important, especially with Patrick in the other room. "The greatest. Harder, oh yes..."

Colin picked up speed and power, and he didn't slow down even a little until he exploded. He saw Liam's cock throb and shoot, making him reach his own peak of stimulation. Shutting his eyes tightly for a moment, he pounded his lover's ass and came deep inside him, feeling like he was swimming in warm waters that massaged every nerve ending he had.

Patrick peeked in as the lovers were winding down; Colin was still pushing in and out of Liam. "I'm gonna see if Daniel's home now. He's gonna be so jealous he missed your hot blowjob." He disappeared, leaving the door open, and a minute later they saw him pass the room again on his way out.

"Dang it," said Liam. "I wanted to talk to him before I went home."

"Will you be long?" Colin asked, cuddling up to Liam and pleasing him with tiny kisses.

"I hope not," said Liam, humming with delight. "I'll let you give me more swats if I am."

Colin chuckled. "I might give you more swats anyway. You liked it, didn't you?"

"I thought I was gonna cum before you made love to me," Liam admitted.

"Did you mean what you said?" Colin peered into his eyes intently. "You said I was the best. It made me hornier, and it made me love you more, too."

"I meant it a hundred percent," Liam promised.

"Thank you for saying it. I love you so much."

"I love you, too." They kissed passionately, until Matthew spoke from the doorway.

"Me and Jer are gonna take a bath together. Will you bring some snacks back with you, Li? We're kinda low around here."

"Sure," said Liam, getting up. "I'll hurry as fast as I can."

Liam felt warm and fuzzy, albeit a little disheveled when he made the short walk home. He practically skipped into the house. Seeing no one downstairs, he raced upstairs to the guest bedroom. Grandpa greeted him there with a smile.

"Oy, lad. Thought you might've decided to stay with yer mates the whole night."

"I'll go back, but I wanted to come see you. Is everyone going to bed already?"

"I don't know about anyone else, but the time difference makes me a wee bit knackered," said Grandpa. "It's very late in Ireland."

"Oh no, I'm sorry. I should've been here sooner," Liam lamented.

"Nevermind that," Grandpa dismissed him. "Try on your new kilt." He followed Liam into his bedroom, where he'd left the Irish outfit.

Liam began throwing off the clothes he'd only just put on again, then stood in his underwear, looking over the outfit. He picked up the shirt, examining it closely.

"Y-fronts, too," Grandpa tapped the boy's backside on his underwear.

"Huh?" said Liam, looking down briefly.

"You don't wear underpants with a kilt. You let it all hang free and loose. Even the trews don't require underpants," he motioned toward the trousers.

Liam giggled. "Oh." He got naked and snatched up the shirt again. "I like how this shirt feels."

"They call it a grandfather shirt. You can wear it with or without the Aran. The sweater, that is."

Liam put on the shirt first, then the stockings, worked himself into the kilt, then completed the ensemble with the cap. "This is terrific! I feel like a real Irish boy."

"You make me proud!" Grandpa beamed. He lifted the kilt behind Liam and patted the bare behind. "How's it feel to be bare-arsed?"

"It's fun," Liam smiled, but his smile vanished when Grandpa tickled his little package.

"The young fellas especially benefit from wearing no underpants. A pretty bird can just slip right under there. Or another fella, eh?" he poked Liam in the ribs.

"Grandpa..." Liam was blushing like mad.

"Oh, you don't have to be so modest with me. I remember donkey's years ago, your brother loved to play tickle the cock. Wee Patrick was a fun little boy," he laughed conspiratorially, as if they were sharing wonderful secrets. But Liam was nervous. Grandpa kept patting his "arse" and tickling his cock and balls like he was tickling a baby, complete with the funny noises.

"Patrick did?" Liam felt confused, because that didn't sound like Patrick when he was younger.

"Aye," said Grandpa. "And he was a handsome tot, but you...you're a fine little thing. And all of twelve, eh? You're well developed down here, too," he squeezed Liam's package, making Liam gasp. "I bet you got a girlfriend, eh? Or maybe a fella? I had a few fellas before I met your grandma."

"Gosh, Grandpa," Liam stammered. "You don't have to tell me all that." He moved away from Grandpa's hands and sat on the bed, starting to undress again. "I have a boyfriend named Colin who's fourteen, since you asked. We love each other, so maybe I shouldn't be, um, playing games with you." He tried to sound calm and cheery, even if inside he was near panicking.

"Colin! Nice Irish name! Is he a handsome lad? Of course he'd have to be, for my wee Liam." He helped Liam off with his stockings and kilt, but kept him from getting to his other clothes. "I knew you'd like the fellas someday. Ever since you were a tot, you had a swishy arse. And the cutest arse I ever saw. You like to have it played with? Colin's a lucky fella," he was caressing Liam's bare ass and kneading it like dough.

"Grandpa, please," Liam squirmed under Grandpa's hold. He didn't want to call out and let his parents know what Grandpa was doing, but he was scared and didn't know what else he could do. If it had been anyone else but Grandpa, he'd have tried to hurt them badly already and screamed his head off. "Can I go back to my friends now?"

"You like this game, I can tell. I can make you feel real good, and you can go back to Colin and show him a thing or two. He'll thank you for it. Why don't you drape yourself over the bed facedown, and I'll give you some real pleasure." He started forcing Liam down on the bed, with Liam protesting a little louder, until they both flinched from the voice that barreled them over from the hallway.

"I'M GONNA FUCKING KILL YOU!" screamed Patrick; he was redder than Liam had ever seen him and trembling with rage. He charged, and Liam screamed, too.

"Nooo!" he lunged at Patrick to try to stop him from killing Grandpa, but in the next second his world went black.

When Liam became conscious again, he tried to open his eyes but couldn't seem to. Slowly his other senses honed in to his surroundings; more than anything else, he recognized the smell of a hospital room all too well. He panicked, feeling his limbs for casts, feeling greatly relieved to find only flesh.

"Liam!"

"Jeremiah?" he croaked. "I need some water."

He heard a scuffling, then felt a straw being put to his lips. He tried opening his eyes again and saw a bit of bright light, but that was all he could manage.

"Are you the only one here?"

"Yeah," said Jeremiah. "But the others will be back soon. I said I'd watch over you."

"You're a good friend," Liam sighed. "Did we make you upset, what Colin and I did in front of you?"

"No," Jeremiah replied, like it was a dumb question. "Why would you think that?"

"I dunno. After what just happened to me, I thought it might've been a bad thing to do, since you're only seven."

"I like it when you don't treat me like a baby," Jeremiah said resolutely. "Please don't stop being my friend."

Liam gave a dry chuckle. "You should stop worrying about that. I'll never stop being your friend." He heard Jeremiah's sigh of relief. "Why can't I open my eyes?"

Jeremiah drew a deep breath. "One of your eyes is swollen shut. It looks yucky. Patrick hit it on accident."

Despite his closed eyes, he felt tears welling up behind his eyelids. "Grandpa tried to hurt me," he whispered. "And I think he hurt Patrick when he was little, too. Patrick tried to save me."

Jeremiah was quiet for a long moment, and Liam started to wonder if he was still there. "I'm sorry, Liam," he finally said. "That your Grandpa tried to hurt you. Are you okay now?"

Liam nodded, then shook his head no. "Actually, I have a splitting headache."

"Oh my gosh! I almost forgot! The nurse left some medicine for you. Um, here," he placed a few pills in Liam's hands. "Here's your water."

Liam gratefully swallowed the pills and exhaled loudly. "You'd make a great nurse, Jer." He couldn't see it, but he knew Jeremiah was smiling.

The door opened, and Liam heard others coming in. He forced his good eye open and saw tall and short figures alike. He had to wipe away moisture to be able to see them clearly. At his side now was Colin. "Hi," said Colin shyly, since Liam's parents were right behind him. Nevertheless, Liam leaned over and kissed him firmly on the mouth.

"I'm glad you're here."

"We're getting tired of these hospital visits," said William, standing closest to the door.

Liam grinned. "Tell me about it."

Matthew came to the other side of his bed and simply held his hand. Then his mom inquired about his pain pills.

"I gave them to him, Mrs. Reilly," Jeremiah said proudly.

"Thank you, Jeremiah," said Jenny. "How do you feel, Liam?"

"I have a big ole' headache, but I'm hungry, too. Can I go home?"

"Yes," said Jenny. "Uh, you boys wanna help Liam get dressed? We'll go get the car."

Liam had noticed Patrick was missing from the group long before they reached the car, but he waited until they were driving to the bay to say something. "Where's Patrick?" he asked, as his mother gave him a cold pack to hold on his eye.

"He stayed at home," Jenny said simply.

Liam emitted a small gasp, and William leaned forward from the very back seat. "Don't worry, Grandpa Reilly's on his way back to Ireland already."

No one said anything else about Grandpa or Patrick the rest of the way home. When they arrived home and everyone filed out of the car, Jeremiah and the two Lopers immediately walked on toward HQ, while William assisted Liam inside with an arm over his shoulder.

"Where are they going?" Liam pouted.

"You can join them later," William whispered.

Once in the house, the whole family except Patrick gathered in the living room. Liam was a little nervous and leaned against William once they were situated on the couch. He realized he hadn't heard his dad say a single word all day, and the man looked more somber than Liam had ever seen him.

"Liam," his mother began softly. "We'd like you to tell us what happened with Grandpa. Please."

"What about...Patrick?" Liam stammered. Hadn't he told them what happened already?

"Patrick won't talk right now," she sighed. "According to Grandpa, Patrick saw you changing out of your kilt and lost his temper."

"Then why did Grandpa leave?" Liam frowned.

Jenny hesitated, glancing at her husband. William spoke again to relieve her. "Patrick's never been so mad before. We were afraid he was seriously going to hurt Grandpa if he stayed. Do you remember what happened?"

Liam nodded fearfully.

"Well, go on," William urged.

Liam looked at his father; he was Grandpa's son, after all, and Liam didn't want to speak ill of family. Jacob finally met the gaze of his son and inhaled deeply.

"Son, tell the truth, even if it isn't easy."

"You're not in trouble, honey," Jenny rushed to say.

"No, you're not in trouble," Jacob confirmed. "We just want to know what happened."

Drawing a shaky breath, Liam sat up a bit, but remained close to William. "Grandpa wanted me to try on my new kilt, so I did. At first, it was like he was just playing around. He kept touching me on my...naked parts. I was pretty nervous and didn't know what to do. I got undressed again so I could get back in my normal clothes, but he wouldn't let me." He paused, trembling, and William squeezed him a little tighter. Tears began to form again, and he hastily tried to wipe them away.

"He said he used to play games with Patrick where he touched him down there; I don't know what else he did to him. I asked if I could go back to my friends, but he started to force me on the bed, and I was trying to get away." His tears flowed more freely, and so did his mom's, as she covered her mouth. "Patrick saw him trying to hurt me, and he ran to save me. But..." his breath caught, and he choked on a sob. "I thought Patrick might kill Grandpa, and that wouldn't be good, so I tried to stop him. He hit me instead of Grandpa by mistake."

Jenny flew to the couch and pulled her son into an embrace, and he willingly fell into it. Jacob had William get up so he could take his place, and when Jenny had cuddled Liam enough, he did the same. Liam wrapped his arms tightly around his father's torso.

"I'm sorry, Dad. I didn't mean to make things bad with Grandpa."

"No, no, son, this isn't your fault. My dad was as wrong as he could be, and I'm sorry he did that to you. I'll never let him near you again."

After a good cry, feeling protected by his father, Liam finally raised up and wiped his eyes. "Patrick told me once that someone had molested him a long time ago and made him do bad things he didn't like. I never thought it could be Grandpa. We gotta help Patrick."

"We'll find him someone to talk to," said Jenny. "A professional. For you, too, if you need it."

Liam shook his head. "I'm okay. I have you to talk to, and I have really good friends. Sometimes I talk to Dr. Nate, too, `cause he gives really good advice."

"As long as you're not keeping things bottled up," she said, caressing his hand. "We're always here for you."

"Can I go see Patrick?"

"You can try. Keep that ice pack on your face. There's another in the freezer when it gets too warm."

Holding the freezer pack firmly on his eye, Liam boldly walked to the guest house and went inside. When he reached Patrick's bedroom door, though, he didn't feel so bold. He timidly knocked. No answer. He knocked again. Still no answer. So he decided to walk in.

"Patrick?" he whispered. He saw his brother's shape on the bed, facing away from him. Patrick still didn't respond, so he climbed on the bed behind him and snuggled up to the teen.

"Are you okay?" Patrick spoke; his voice was hoarse, like he'd been either screaming or crying. Maybe both, Liam thought.

"This is the second time you've put me in the hospital, you know," Liam teased.

"Oh my god, I could kick myself for hurting you," Patrick turned over, and Liam saw he indeed had been crying. They embraced and even kissed briefly on the lips. "I couldn't see clearly. You know how they say you just see red when you go into a rage? I just saw black. Like, almost nothing. I just went swinging. I never thought you'd get in my way!"

"It's okay! Really! I just knew you were going to kill Grandpa, and I didn't want that on your conscience, or for you to get arrested and taken away. He hurt you, didn't he? He's the one that molested you, right?"

"Yes," Patrick said darkly. "I was definitely gonna kill the son of a bitch when I saw what he was doing to you."

"I love you for protecting me. I mean it. Thank you times a thousand." Patrick responded with a slight smile and another kiss. "Why were you there, anyway? Upstairs, I mean?"

"I was just lucky. Daniel still wasn't home, so I went back to HQ. Colin said you'd gone to see Grandpa, and I just knew something bad was going to happen. I ran all the way over there."

"You're my hero."

Patrick snorted. "I gave you a freaking black eye."

"I don't care. I love you."

"I love you, too, Li."

Liam smiled; it felt good to hear Patrick be so vulnerable. "Mom said they're gonna get you, like, a therapist or something."

"Oh, for fuck's sake," Patrick growled.

Liam gasped. "Language, young man! Anyway, this is a good thing! You need it. I'd offer to go with you, but I know you wouldn't want me to. Just do it, okay? It'll make you feel better. Not so angry, anyway."

"Yeah, `cause you're such an expert in these matters."

Liam scowled. "Don't mess with me. I'll put you over my knee."

"Promise?" Patrick grinned.

"Oh, for fuck's sake," Liam sighed.

"Liam John!" Patrick exclaimed. He shot upward and swung his legs over the side of the bed, positioning Liam over his lap at the same time. Immediately he began administering swats, while Liam protested loudly.

"What are you two doing?" William stood near the bed, startling them both.

"Liam said a really bad cuss word. Like, the worst," Patrick said.

"Oh, well do continue, then," said William.

"Nooo!" Liam hollered, grunting and crying out with each swat, mixed with laughs. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry!"

Patrick stopped, and they froze in that position. "I hope you learned your lesson, young man."

Liam scowled in jest, scrambling to his feet. "William, he said the same dirty word before I did!"

"Is that so?!" William plopped on the bed and with surprising strength forced Patrick over his lap. Liam laughed hysterically and William pounded Patrick's butt swiftly and firmly, while Patrick screamed, voice cracking to high heaven.

When William stopped and Patrick was beet red, Liam pointed his finger at Patrick. "I hope you learned your lesson, young man!"

As Patrick composed himself and everyone settled down, Patrick and Liam sat on either side of William, who threw an arm over the shoulders of both of them. "I love you guys," William said bluntly, earning a smile from both brothers. "You've been through some real crap. I'll try to be a better brother from now on."

"Yeah, right," Patrick said jokingly.

"Hush, Patrick," said Liam. "Will's trying to be serious. We need each other, you know."

Patrick lowered his head, nodding. "I know. Thanks, Will."

Will kissed Liam's cheek, then Patrick's. Liam giggled, while Patrick merely blushed.

During the following month, June, The Good Deeds Club (as they were informally known) helped Trey and Toran move into their new house on the island like they promised. They performed other jobs over the summer, too, but ones they were paid for: mowing lawns, cleaning out garages, painting walls and fences, and walking dogs. This allowed them to pay the electricity and water bills at HQ for at least the entire summer.

Additionally, they bought extra fireworks for the fourth of July. The Wrights -- Jeremiah's family - joined the Lopers and the Reillys on the shore just below the Reillys' house for an Independence Day celebration. Also joining in the fun was Dr. Nate and Alex, Trey and Toran, Daniel Cole and a couple of William's friends from school who lived on the island.

Three and a half weeks later, they all had another party to celebrate three individuals' birthdays within a few days of each other; Charles Loper turned twenty-seven, Jess Wright turned thirty, and Dr. Nate turned forty-nine. This time they gathered at the Lopers' on a warm Saturday afternoon at the end of July. The four youngest boys -- barring Jeremiah's five year old brother, Josiah -- donned wetsuits and swam for a short time, until they raced back to the house claiming to be frozen.

"Feel my nipples," a naked Jeremiah told Colin while the older boy peeled off his wetsuit in his and Matthew's bedroom. "They're super hard like ice!"

Colin chuckled and flicked one of the boy's nipples. "Careful, we might have to start calling you the ice nipple boy." Jeremiah merely cackled, not offended in the least.

Matthew wrapped himself in a towel and rubbed his flesh feverishly to get warm. "Hey, when are we gonna do something for our club again? We're supposed to be doing good things for people."

Liam and Colin exchanged glances and shrugged. "Any ideas?" Colin asked.

"Well," Liam began. "We were successful at getting Trey and Toran together. Maybe we should find a boyfriend for Daniel?"

"And Patrick," Jeremiah added.

"No!" Matthew exclaimed. "Let's get Daniel and Patrick back together!"

Colin snorted. "They bonk all the time already."

"Yeah, but they're not proper boyfriends," Liam noted. "Maybe they love each other but don't want to admit it. I bet they have sex with others, too. At least Daniel probably does."

"Let's find out," Colin stated. "We're gonna go ask `em."

They dressed in a hurry and went throughout the house looking for the pseudo couple. Finding nothing but adults -- and a whiny (according to Jeremiah) kid -- in the house, they returned to the sunlight and walked around the house. Only Will and his buddies were on the front lawn, drinking sodas and texting girls.

"Where's Patrick?" Liam asked of William. "And Daniel?"

One of William's buddies answered for him. "Those fags went to Will's place to pack each other's fudge." He cracked up laughing, along with the other friend of William's.

"You better watch your mouth, douche bag," Colin puffed out his chest and advanced on the older teen, who stood to meet the challenge.

"Guys! Chill!" William ordered. "Or I'll kick both your skinny butts! Check the guest house, Li."

William's moron friend plopped back in his chair, ignoring Colin. The four friends began to head in the direction of the Reilly house, but were stopped dead in their tracks by a vehicle approaching at a rather high speed for that road. They turned toward the sound of a revving engine, then gasped as the driver of the small SUV slammed on the brakes, stirring up dust and rocks, coming to an abrupt stop in front of the Loper house.

"Good god," said William.

The driver door was flung open, and a woman stepped out, shut the door, and walked boldly toward the group of boys.

"Holy shit," Colin spat. "It's Diane Aerhart."

The woman left a gap between her and the boys when she stopped walking and spoke to a shocked audience. "Hello, William," she purred, smoothing her flowing sundress. Her head adjusted slightly toward Colin. "Hello, son. Aren't you going to give your mother a hug?"

William appeared too shocked to greet her in return. Colin, on the other hand, seethed with anger. "I would, but my mother's inside the house."

In the next second, however, Linda Loper was outside, followed by a crowd of others who'd apparently heard the car screech to a halt. "Is that so?" she glared at Linda.

"What're you doing here, Diane?" Linda crossed her arms over her chest, looking anything but happy.

Diane didn't even acknowledge Linda. "Colin, darling, I want you to meet someone. I have another man in my life, now. I'm sure William would love to meet him, too."

"I'm sure I wouldn't," said William. Liam noticed his brother's countenance had grown very dark.

"Oh, you do," Diane assured him. She turned away and walked back to her vehicle, opening the passenger door. Her passenger was nothing like the crowd expected, however. She turned again holding a baby. "Colin, meet your new baby brother. William, meet your son."